Read The Smiths

How To Save Money On Fuel Costs

By: Robert S.

The Not-So-Obvious ways:

  • Buy gas three days before a holiday. Gas prices almost always go up for holidays.
  • If you are driving a stick shift with fuel injection, note that 50% throttle at 1200 rpm's uses less gas than 10% throttle at 2500 rpm's. As long as the engine is not lugging or pinging, shift as soon as possible and use plenty of throttle. The engine is more efficient when it does not have to pump air past a closed throttle plate.
  • When choosing the optimum air pressure for you tires the figure imprinted on the tire wall is the MAXIMUM. The figures printed on the sticker in the door frame, in the fuel filler flap, and in the manual are for comfort rather than fuel efficiency. Generally speaking, a slightly higher pressure will improve fuel mileage and handling, but too high will degrade traction and wear the tires rapidly, as well as being unsafe.
  • Most car modifications do not improve mileage. Extra wings add drag. Power improvements often hurt mileage. However, if your car is turbocharged, chiptuning may result in a mileage boost. The mileage boost will be canceled out if you drive more aggressively due to power improvements.
  • Slown down a little below the speed limit, and the highway can seem like it is wide open.

  • Slow down a little below the speed limit, and the highway can seem like it is wide open. Often the right-most lanes keep moving more than the left-most in areas prone to traffic-jams. Vehicles continue to exit, which keeps leaving 'gaps' to fill in.
  • A manual transmission saves an average $1000 on the cost of a new vehicle, and eliminates routine transmission maintenance that an automatic transmission requires (and most people never do this maintenance once the warranty is up - so a used car with an automatic is a risky purchase). In most cases, an automatic transmission gets significantly worse mileage overall than a manual transmission.
  • Neutral is also a 'gear' on a manual transmission, which you use constantly anyway. Learn how to coast between traffic lights, applying power only as needed to keep the car rolling (more or less) with traffic. Learn to judge terrain and use neutral to its full potential to keep the car moving 'for free', and save more gas over time.
  • Use the lowest recommended octane for your car. The lower octane gas is cheaper. Most modern cars are engineered to run most efficiently on lower octane fuel, and often recommend not using higher-octane fuel. Check your owner's manual to be sure, as not all car engines should use lowest octane gas.
  • Mix octanes. In some areas, the lower octane may be too low for your car and the mid-grade or higher octane may be more than what you need. To avoid overpaying and still get the correct octane for your car you can mix the gas. For example, if your car takes 87 octane and the pumps have 85 octane and 89 octane, then when filling your car, fill half the tank with 85 octane and the other half with 89 octane and this will give you an equivalent of 87 octane plus it will save you money because the lower octane gas costs less.
  • Many of these tips change slightly if your engine is turbocharged or diesel. For instance, diesel engines use almost no fuel while idling. Diesel trucks will often be left idling all night to provide heat or power for the trucker inside the cab, at the cost of relatively little fuel.

(Part of this article was derived - with permission - from

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